No Coverage for Home Damaged by Falling Boulders

Landscape with rocks and desert

Plaintiffs' home sustained extensive damage when two or three large builders rolled down a steep hillside and struck the home.

March 8, 2021
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The policy's earth movement exclusion barred coverage for the home damaged by large boulders rolling down from the hillside above. Sullivan v. Nationwide Affinity Ins. Co. of Am., 2021 U.S. App. LEZXIS 628 (10th Cir Jan. 11, 2021).

Plaintiffs' home sustained extensive damage when two or three large builders rolled down a steep hillside and struck the home. The insurer, Nationwide, hired an engineering firm that determined the boulders were not influenced by meteorological conditions such as torrential rain or high winds. The report noted that rockfall hazards existed primarily due to an undercut sandstone outcrop, and evidenced by numerous rocks from rockfall events that scattered Plaintiffs' property.

Based on the report, Nationwide denied coverage under the earth movement exclusion. The exclusion provided Nationwide did "not insure for loss caused directly or indirectly by . . . Earth Movement" and regardless of "whether or not the loss event results in widespread damage or affects a substantial area." The policy further defined "earth movement" to include "landslide . . . or any other earth movement including earth sinking, risking or shifting."

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com



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